Jeremy Gilley is an actor turned filmmaker, who in the late 1990s became preoccupied with questions about the fundamental nature of humanity and the issue of peace. He decided to explore these through the medium of film, and specifically, to create a documentary following his campaign to establish an annual day of ceasefire and non-violence.
In 1999, Jeremy founded Peace One Day, a non-profit organisation, and in 2001 Peace One Day’s efforts were rewarded when the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on 21 September – Peace Day.
This first stage of the journey resulted in a feature documentary, ‘Peace One Day’, released in 2003, produced in association with the BBC and Passion Pictures and nominated for Best British Documentary 2004 (British Independent Film Awards).
Following on from the creation of Peace Day, work began to embed the day as a global institution and, most crucially, to try to use the day to bring about a cessation of hostilities in a conflict zone. After four further years that objective was achieved when, in 2007, in Afghanistan, Peace Day agreements were reached between all sides - including the Taliban.
As a result 1.4 million children were vaccinated against polio in conditions of guaranteed safety. The United Nations Department of Safety and Security also monitored a 70% reduction in violent incidents in Afghanistan on the day. Similar agreement was also achieved in the following four consecutive years resulting in the vaccination of 4.5 million children overall.
This incredible achievement was documented in Peace One Day's second feature film, the multi award-winning 'The Day After Peace', sold to broadcasters in 92 countries and officially selected for a raft of international film festivals.
Peace One Day's mission now is to institutionalise Peace Day, 21 September, making it a day that is self-sustaining, an annual day of global unity, a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that humanity has never known.
To support this goal, Peace One Day works in education, music, film, sport, dance, art, online and has established a series of coalitions encompassing thousands of organisations. These initiatives encourage organisations and individuals to take specific actions to reduce violence around the theme: Who Will You Make Peace With?
In 2012 Jeremy approached global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company to support Peace One Day in analysing the results of Peace Day that year. Their report found that approximately 280 million people in 198 countries were aware of Peace Day 2012. For Peace Day 2013, they recorded a 68% increase up to 470 million people aware of the day. Of that number, approximately 1-2% (4-8 million) behaved more peacefully in their own lives as a result, improving the world for thousands of others.
In 2015 this growth continued with an estimated 1.5 billion people now exposed to Peace Day messages with 709 million people now aware of the day. Of those aware, an estimated 13 million people behaved more peacefully on that day. For more information on the impact of Peace Day, please click here.
In 2014, due to the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Peace One Day launched a 3-year project in the Great Lakes region of Africa for Peace Day, 21 September. The goal - to raise awareness of Peace Day in the region across all sectors of society. We hope to see a significant, measurable reduction in violence in the region on Peace Day by 2016.
A third feature documentary will be released in May 2017 documenting the entire story and has secured distribution from the BBC.
Peace One Day is impartial and independent of any government, political persuasion, corporation or religious creed.